Blue Jays expect response by Friday about return to Canada


TORONTO (WIVB) — The Toronto Blue Jays, with hopes of returning to Canada at the end of July, said Wednesday they expect to receive a response from the Canadian government within days.

“As we have previously indicated, we continue to work with the federal government towards playing games at Rogers Centre starting July 30, and expect to receive a response by Friday,” the club said in a statement. “There are no further updates at this time, but we will share new information as it becomes available.”

Canadian health officials are not tipping their hand as they review the Toronto Blue Jays proposal to return home.

While acknowledging they have received the application, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said nothing Wednesday about when they might rule on it. The ballclub, which is currently playing home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, announced last week they had submitted the proposal to federal officials, and were hopeful to have approval to return to Toronto on July 30.

The Jays shared more information about the “National Interest Exemption” application Tuesday, saying it highlighted the 0.03% COVID testing positivity rate across Major League Baseball during the 2021 season and the vaccination rate of more than 85% among players and personnel.

The application also addressed Canada’s border restrictions. It says fully vaccinated players and personnel for both the Blue Jays and their opponents would follow the same rules to enter Canada as the general public. That includes testing requirements. Those not fully vaccinated would have to follow a modified quarantine for 14 days, under which they would be able to travel to the Rogers Centre to play.

Both PHAC and Canadian immigration officials would have to sign off on the proposal. The Blue Jays have already received municipal and provincial approval, they have said.

The club returns to Sahlen Field on Friday to begin a six-game homestand, the last of which they are currently scheduled to play in Buffalo.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.

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